On October 5, 2020, we left New Mexico and drove across the vast and desolate west Texas landscape, dotted with bobbing oil wells. We stopped to spend the night in Sonora because there's just too much Texas to drive in one day. The second day's drive was in stark contrast - stone walls and small trees lined the road with rolling hills in the distance, and lush verdant fields, an ostrich farm, and vineyards and peach orchards in the foreground. We'd entered the Texas "Hill Country" - the geographic border between the American Southwest and Southeast. About an hour and a half before we would reach our target destination of Austin we passed through a charming oasis of a town - Fredericksburg. We just had to stop and check this place out.
Curious why this place had a European feel, we did some quick research and learned that Fredericksburg was founded in the mid 1800's by German immigrants who continue to preserve it's old world charm. The "Marktplatz" in the town center was already decorated for Christmas with a classic German "Christmas Pyramid" and a huge Christmas Tree. We stopped at Becker Vineyards, one of the many in-town wine tasting rooms operated by the local wineries we'd just driven past. This one also has a lavender farm and the shop smelled heavenly. We bought a Cabernet Franc and a Malbec for later and followed the host's suggestion for lunch at the Woerner Warehouse Cafe around the corner. In addition to great food, the attached shop was filled with beautifully curated home decor items and gifts.
We were so taken with Fredericksburg that we returned twice more during our stay in Austin. The final visit was for Christmas when we rented a beautiful three-bedroom AirBnB with a separate guest house. We had a festive holiday with our niece Caroline and her family, along with our nephew Pat and Caroline's friend Angela who drove all the way from Virginia. Caroline's new Austin friends and Washington DC transplants, Mitch and Melissa, joined the fun with their two sons and we celebrated the Italian / American tradition of the "7 Fishes" on Christmas Eve. Melissa and Richard brought their Italian heritage into the kitchen while Angela mixed fancy cocktails.
On Christmas morning we had the joy of watching Ellis, 3, and Wyatt, 5, unwrap their presents. When the glow of Santa started to wear off a bit, Nancy pulled out her Christmas surprise: two shopping bags full of synthetic snowballs she’d found at Marshall’s. The whole gang moved out to the front lawn and winter mayhem ensued in the warm Texas sunshine.
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Nancy McCabe &